Puad Contends His Fb Post Never Referred To Muhyiddin
Umno supreme council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi contended in a court filing that his Feb 9 Facebook posting never referred to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at all.
Thus, plaintiff Muhyiddin has no locus standi (legal standing) to sue him for defamation over the FB posting, Puad claimed in a statement of defence against the suit.
On March 1, Bersatu president Muhyiddin filed the suit against Puad over the FB posting which alleged double standards in Covid-19 procedures in Malaysia.
Four days later, it was reported that Puad had taken down the FB posting, in compliance with an interim court injunction obtained by Muhyiddin in relation to the ongoing suit.
According to the statement of defence sighted by Malaysiakini today, defendant Puad contended that his FB post has never referred to Muhyiddin, whether in a personal or official capacity.
“The posting in question is a mere query, fair critique, remark and public comment generally made in regard to the policies and/or laws of the government of Malaysia in relation to the quarantine period for ministers who returned from any official overseas visits being shortened from 10 days to three days.
“It did not at all refer to any individual specifically and was made by the defendant as a Malaysian citizen for public interest,” Puad contended in the document filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on March 29.
“Furthermore, in publishing the impugned posting, the defendant was merely questioning and giving fair critique towards the government of Malaysia without linking the to the plaintiff or any individual.
“Based on the above, the defendant was only utilising the defendant’s right of freedom of speech as enshrined under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
“Therefore, the defendant pleads that the plaintiff has no locus standi to file this action against the defendant,” contended Puad.
Seeking an injunction
The defendant also raised the defence of justification, fair comment, qualified privilege, whereby he contended that the issue raised in the FB posting has public interest.
He claimed that this was shown by various media reports whereby MPs, NGOs, ordinary citizens and others also questioned the issue of the shortening of the quarantine period for ministers returning from overseas official visits.
“In publishing the impugned posting, the defendant had acted with full responsibility and taken reasonable steps to verify information after taking into account and based on existing media reports on the quarantine period related to the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic,” Puad contended.
According to a copy of the main defamation suit, Pagoh MP Muhyiddin is seeking general, exemplary, and aggravated damages from Puad.
The plaintiff is seeking an injunction to restrain the defendant from further publishing or sharing the post.
Muhyiddin is seeking a court order for Puad to publish an unequivocal public apology on the latter’s official FB page, as well as for the defendant to ensure the apology is carried by news portals and social media that had published the impugned post.
The premier also seeks costs and any further relief deemed fit by the court.
Meanwhile, the Kuala Lumpur High Court today postponed to July 26 to hear Puad’s application to set aside the injunction against him in relation to Muhyiddin’s main suit.
The court had on March 1 allowed Muhyiddin’s application for the injunction.
When contacted, Puad’s counsel Shahrul Fazli Kamarulzaman confirmed that the initially-scheduled hearing today was postponed to July 26 due to the total lockdown currently in force nationwide due to Covid-19.
The lawyer added that Muhyiddin’s application for interim injunction against Puad, initially fixed for hearing today, has also been postponed to July 26. - Mkini
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